Sydney rises happily as Dame Streegenet... wait, that isn't quite right.
"It is my honor to serve, Princess. I applaud your focus on the people's needs rather than warfare and supposed glory. "
I think most of Sydney's downtime will be spend buying, studying and scribing spells.
A slightly-more-handsome-than-average armored knight comes riding into Oppara one fine morning, and rides the cobbled streets to the Martella manse. He lifts the visor to his helm as he rides through the city.
"A good day to get home, isn't it Hayseed? I reckon' Lady Martella will be interested to hear what we got ourselves up to. But first, a good rub down for you, and a good beer for me. The dust of the road is making my throat more parched than the dry dirt of the old corn fields as home."
Sir Toby Detwiler, as the farmer turned cavalier is called, stables Hayseed and sees to his care before heading to his favorite watering hole. As he always tends to do, he talks more than he should, and usually on topics that cause many to frown and turn away... the Princess and her bid for the crown. Still, many listen to what he has to say, and he has quite a party going before it is time to turn in for the night.
diplomacy, organize party for charm, dc19: 1d20 + 10 ⇒ (7) + 10 = 17
Throughout the week, Sir Toby tries but is delayed in connecting with his benefactor, the Lade Martella. However, as a disciplined knight does, Sir Toby continues with training. His skill with horse Hayseed is locally famous, and he always draws a crowd when putting Hayseed through the drills, and women faint and men get red with envy as Toby puts his lance through increasingly smaller rings.
ride, demonstrate might for heroism, dc19: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (19) + 7 = 26
Piri spends much of his time in his lab, in the city's libraries and archives, of any size. One of his visits to the museum gives him another opportunity to speak on the nature of the different planes.
Kn Planes for Genius: 1d20 + 10 + 1d6 ⇒ (3) + 10 + (2) = 15
Later, thinking that maybe his speech didn't go as well as he had planned he sends his 4 agents to research more about the planes that he might do better next time.
As I understand it I have two ranks in Genius, 1 from ability score and 1 from book 1 activities. This gives me 4 agents. I can send them on a basic operation, Research. I didn't see a DC for my speech but everyone else seemed to be shooting at 19 and I obviously didn't get there, so I didn't have 6 agents to send.
Operation Research Check: 1d20 + 4 ⇒ (9) + 4 = 13
Eregos works to cultivate alliances among factions in the lower classes, using bar crawling and gambling to bring people together who might not be able to meet otherwise - with the goal of uniting them behind Princess Eutropa.
Arrange Secret Meeting, Subterfuge, Disguise, DC 17: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
While Eregos did that...
...Hargus has two agents go out and gather gossip among the Senatorial class to see how their support falls between Pythareus and Eutropa.
Doing the Gather Information operation. It looks like I can only do this with 2 agents, since my facet rank in Charm is 2.
Gather Information Operation: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (15) + 2 = 17
Sydney spends most of his days deep in study, researching new spells and history of summonings gone wrong. But in the evenings, he has joined a lecture circuit and tries to gain some prestige in those circles. He also seems to attract a small following of grad students.
Give lecture (attempting Genius Rank 3), Knowledge (planes) DC 21: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
Give lecture (attempting Genius Rank 4), Knowledge (planes) DC 23: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (16) + 11 = 27
So I believe I now have Rank 4 genius and 6 agents (students) to work with on the next persona phase, correct?
After a few days of trying to get in touch with Martella worried she may have been one of those lost in the attack on the Gala you decide focus on your training after your failed attempts. As is common for you and your somewhat famous horse you draw quite the crowd of onlookers and several offer their aid to your cause if you should ever have need, either hoping to garner favor or maybe even become pupils of your martial prowess. Either way, you've gained some useful contacts of people that are willing to assist you in the future.
+1 Heroism Persona Facet, moving forward you have access to Heroism Operations.
Not having any luck on his own work Piri asks some of the locals who have taken an interest in him and offered their help to do some research on various topics.
Before the next Persona Round you can use your 11 (it should have only be +2 not +4) in place of a research check to account for your agents research efforts. This research doesn't take you any time to accomplish. Rules on research for reference
Switching to his other identity Hargus taps into his already existing network of contacts that he managed to cultivate during his work at the Gala asking them to listen to the local gossip and ask pointed questions.
+1 to Subterfuge persona facet. Once before the next persona phase, you can use the result of your 17 in place of a normal Diplomacy check when gathering information. You don’t need to spend time to attempt this check, and there is no risk that you will be associated with your agents.
+2 Genius persona Facet. Access to Genius Skills bonus and Admirers (Indifferent) bonuses
+1 Charm, +1 Subterfuge persona facets. You now have access to Charm and Subterfuge basic operations.
+1 Subterfuge, +1 Sagacity persona facets. You now have access to Subterfuge and Sagacity basic operations.
A relatively quiet week passes in the city as each member of the group works on their own objectives. Much of Taldor runs on routine, without the need for direct oversight, and while an eerie quiet falls over the city, the citizens maintain their daily lives with little disruption for now. Talk in the street focuses heavily on the Exaltation Massacre and the War for the Crown, with everything from accurate news to wild speculation making the rounds. For now, at least, Oppara seems to be holding its breath, waiting to see if civil war is inevitable.
Despite the chaos and violence that rocked the senate and the factionalizing of the nation's aristocracy, remarkably little violence has broken out across Taldor. Over a dozen nobles—mostly Eutropia's distant relations—have declared themselves the true inheritors, but for now the empire runs on momentum. Most of the populace waits nervously, unsure of what to do without a senate to declare an official heir or an emperor to appoint new senators.
After you have had time to rest and attend to your own matters, Martella sends word to meet her at the Porthmos Club—an exclusive teahouse in Oppara's Aroden's View district. She instructs you to pack for a long trip through the country, and to bring at least one fine outfit, a suitable hunting outfit, and at least one respectable mask or costume.
A handsome knight arrives at the Porthmos Club in heavy armor but with an appropriate surcoat. A longsword in a scabbard hangs from his side. He bows before the group.
"Greetings, new friends. You are also agents of the Lady Martella? Lady Martella also sends me out to do her the occasional quest. My name is Sir Tobias Detwiler, but I am not one for formality unless I have to! Please, call me Toby. Looks like we are all heading out of the city to further the Princess's interests, don't you think?"
Hmm, good to have some more brawn join us, especially as we seem to be traveling.
"Pleased to meet you Toby, I am Piri Erudishen. You probably cannot tell from my appearance, but I come from a line of Alchemists. So I know potions, should you have any questions. I happy to have you along on our next adventure."
"My dear Valeria, I have everything required save the costume, do you think you can help me out with that? Something simple and quiet please. I will happily give you the required sum"
Valeria arrives, as usual, at the height of fashion. She smiles to many patrons as she makes her way forward, catching up with a senator's wife, laughing at an admiral's joke, pretending not to hear the gasps of husbands, and generously tipping the garçon after taking a flute of champagne. Arriving at her friends' table she nods and thanks Sydney for taking her parasol and pulling her chair, before saying, "Always at the last minute dear Piri! join me after tea and I shall bring you to the best tailor in town. The best ones, as everything in life, also happen to be undervalued, which will work in your favor."
Valeria removes her white gloves and place them in her handbag. Several ladies in waiting present themselves to kindly offload Sydney of her belongings and disappear through the servants' entrance. She takes a look at the new knight joining them.
"Sir Detwiler I presume? much obliged. Dame Valeria Tanessen at your service. I hear you are a fellow affionado of military tactics and history? I'm a bit of a scholar in those fields myself. I look forward to our conversations."
Toby shakes Piri's hand and starts exchanging pleasantries, but nearly faints as the beautiful socialite approaches him and he can barely stammer out a response.
"Yes...er... I like... books. I read, sometimes, when I am not...ah...taking care of my horse. Ah...Dame Tanessen, I am very pleased to meet you..Oh look! They have punch. Excuse me..."
He half trips over to the punch bowl and quickly downs a cup.
"It appears Sir Detwiler has beaten me to the punch! ha ha ha! If I am not mistaken by the motifs on his surcoat, it appears the gentleman belongs to the Order of the Lion... we may be witnessing history here my friends, as this could be the very first time one of their members will ever shout 'For The Queen!' in battle..."
Obviously having been expecting your arrival as each member of the group shows up they are shown to a semi-private room in the tea house where an assortment of snacks are at the ready. When more then a couple people arrive the serving staff begins brings a piping hot kettle and dainty cups for you to have tea as you wait.
Will give Sydney and Hargus a bit to get an 'intro' post in before I move us forward tonight.
"Again, Dame Valeria, I will be in your debt. I'm certain you've noticed I am not refined in the finer workings of society."
Piri smiles quickly, nods again to the new Knight as if to excuse himself. He slightly raises his eyebrow when Valeria makes the comment about "For the Queen" and carefully observes the reactions of everyone else in the room, including and especially the staff.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 + 1d6 ⇒ (6) + 11 + (5) = 22
Between botching his entire set of operations when he was spinning out of control and the current chaos of the city, Sveng realizes his entire operation was in shambles. He needed to start from the ground up, and focused his efforts on building a foundation to operate from. It is a fairly large setback, but there is no use crying over spilled milk, only the work to be done cleaning it up.
When word reaches Sveng about meeting at the Porthmos Club, Sveng is impressed. Exclusive. I wonder why though? Secrecy is best managed in other places, some place like the Porthmos Club is used to flaunt how important one is. Still, it seems like he has little choice in the matter. He packs his gear, purchasing some traveling supplies and clothes, and makes his way to the Club...in disguise. No need to give anybody unnecessarily easy information on him.
Sveng is lounging at the club when the heavily armored man comes in, directly addressing them. Ah, a knight in the original sense of the word. Very useful considering our notable lack of brawn, and the right kind of brawn that is not useless in a room full of politicians either. Well played Lady Lotheed.
Of course as the man stumbles around Valeria he stares blankly forward. As graceful around women as a child. Ah, a weakness that must have tabs kept on it. "Well met, Sir Tobias. Sveng Catus." He says in a way of introduction, noticeably lacking any titles.
Sveng waves a hand dismissively to Piri. "Fear not, I caught word of your plight and had outfits arranged with my tailor. The necessary garbs are packed with my supplies."
Sir Toby moves to hold a dainty tea cup in his hand with an armored gauntlet but nearly crushes it. He puts it down.
"Greetings, Sir... ah...Mr. Catus. Sir Piri, it glads my heart to hear that I am not the only one here who is a not master of the refined side of life. I do my best, I know that serving the Crown takes a silver tongue and a strong arm, but let's just say my arm has had a lot more practice than my tongue."
His eyes glance back at Valeria and he noticeably swallows then tries to put his best foot forward. "My Dame Tanessen, indeed, I look forward to that day when I can yell "For the Queen". Er...It was Lady Martella herself who introduced me to the Order of the Lion after witnessing my... riding abilities, and she holds my loyalty. Farmhand to knight is no small thing! And if she believes in the Princess, then so do I."
Piri quietly "Thank you Sveng, then I am fully prepared" Nodding to the knight and the others he positions himself with the best view of the room and his back to a solid wall.
Not long after Sydney and Hargus arrive Martella shows up, she pulls out her mechanical cricket once again setting it on the table as she beckons everyone to take a seat. She smiles as she starts "I see you all have met Sir Derwiler. He was away on important business during the events that occurred here and when I received word that Hazel and Adrian needed to attend to others matters and could not be of assistance I thought it prudent to enlist his aid for your future endeavors. I know we are in trying times but I expect that you will give him your trust as I have given all of you mine."
She pulls out a stack of papers and lays them on the table in front of you all before continuing. She looks to you each and smiles “You are all here not only at my request but at the request of the Princess. As you can imagine, you'll be going on a little trip and seeing that you have bags packed I appreciate you agreeing to this on such short notice. So..." She slides the papers over to you and continues with a grin "Please, have an estate..."
“I wish I could say this little gift didn’t come with strings attached, but these are tangled times. As the Princess noted, the Ulfen Guard, the emperor’s personal bodyguards, have locked down the imperial palace, and they won’t allow access to anyone until Taldor has an official Grand Prince once again. It keeps unreasonable sorts from looting the palace, I suppose, but it has also sealed away Eutropia’s personal wealth. The Stavian family has another estate, though, the Palace of Birdsong, but the Stavians entrusted its care and maintenance to stewards two centuries ago. These stewards now refuse to leave and, I’m told, are courting Maxillar Pythareus’s favor. It doesn’t help matters that these squatters are my family, or that my half brother Bartelby has been squandering the estate’s fortunes."
“While we technically have the authority to demand the estate’s return, we lack the power. If we could weaken Bartelby’s power base and woo some of his subordinates to support us, we could reclaim the Palace of Birdsong. That’s where you and your lovely new home comes in."
“The Lady Allis Betony died nearly a decade ago, leaving no heirs. We purchased her estate at auction last week, and I have taken the liberty of drawing up a few documents listing you as Betony family scions. You’ll be arriving just in time to make your debut at the annual Tanager Jubilee."
She nods toward the outside window where you see a large fancy carriage and horses now waiting outside. "The carriage and horses are yours to keep, as you can’t very well be seen walking to the jubilee; I’ll be riding on to Cassomir once we near the county border. Make friends, learn the lay of the land, and afterward do what you can to win the nobles’ and citizens’ loyalty. Undermine Bartelby, and wherever you can, try to improve peoples’ lives and engender loyalty. For any overt actions you take, you’ll likely want to hide your identity to keep Bartelby from cracking down on you."
“I feel I must stress the importance of your task. The princess has sold her townhouse to fund this plan, and at this point her resources are perilously thin. If we’re to stand any chance in this bid for the throne, we need a suitable base of operations and steady income.”
"Milady! An honor to serve you again. Can you tell us more of this Jubilee? All area nobles will be in attendance, I presume. And perhaps a chance to show of strength of arms, perchance?"
Martella nods "Of course. It’s an annual sort of founders’ day celebration. Local tradition claims that when Count Markolian Stavian broke ground for the palace some eight centuries ago, a scarlet tanager landed on his shovel and sang his praises. It’s a day off for the lower classes, but the aristocracy celebrates with two days of feasting, games, dancing, tournaments, and a hunt. Making a good showing at the jubilee is an excellent way to win influence in the region.”
"I look forward to the opportunity to serve again, Martella. But... if I may ask... since Count Markolian broke ground on the Palace of Birdsong all these centuries ago, is your brother Bartleby also a count? in which prefecture is this county, and which level of peerage are we to assume for this endeavor? are we to speak to him as equals or as barons, lords or viscounts operating within his lands? how are we to approach him, and why not linger for a week or two to introduce us to your homeland? it seems to me that your presence there would ease our task by leaps and bounds!"
Eregos arrived with everything. The beginning of my restoration
He chose to come as Eregos. He introduced himself to Toby as Eregos Villarius, saving his other identity until he could trust the knight.
He listened to Martella’s mission briefing, then nodded as he looked over the information. Far enough from Oppara that I can be myself - and I can be Hargus to ensure my actions don’t reflect on myself.
”Who are some of the major players in the area - the best ones to influence?”
You know the Villarius family were minor nobles who opposed Maxillar Pythareus. The a High Strategos accused them of devil worship and trying to undermine the throne, and the family has since faded from the public eye.
"Ah! Eregos! long time no see! I hope you have seen to your family's safety in these troubled times! especially in light of the threat emboldened Imperialists throngs would pose on your family- kindly let me know if there is anything I can do to help them, by the way. Please join us! and thank you for this question! why yes, if our Lady Lotheed here cannot join us, her knowledge of the main players in her brother's county would be much appreciated!"
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Martella smiles to the abundance of Valeria's question and once she and Eregos ask everything she takes the time to answer them in turn. "So, yes my brother is a count, now that my father has passed. The palace and your new home resides in the county of Meratt. I’ve not seen it in over a decade, but it’s quite the pastoral wonderland: olive orchards and vineyards, and hills and ample woods to hunt game. The largest town you’ll find is Lotheedar, near the Palace of Birdsong, but there’s a village the Betony estate is expected to oversee as well: Stachys. Overall, the county is perhaps not as well maintained as the locals would prefer, but Father was a competent administrator if nothing else. I can't say as much of my brother..."
"As for your positions, that is up for you to work out. Before we depart one of you will need to sign your name to these papers, to take ownership and you will be pretending to be some distant relation of the Betony family, thus giving you the right to claim the estate. The rest of you are welcome to play whatever roll you feel you can pull off, but I would suspect you being relatively unknown as you are it would be a simpler and more believable approach to not aim too high. Overall it is likely better to avoid my brother as much as possible and instead work behind his back to turn supporters to our side until such time that you can make a move to remove him from power. No need to draw unneeded attention to yourselves if possible."
"You will especially be better off without my introduction... I am... unwelcome among my family; the result of Father’s indiscretions with a Qadiran woman. More scandalously, I lack the family affinity for magic. After Father’s death, Bartelby explained in no uncertain terms what fates he would visit upon me if I ever returned to the estate. You are far safer without my presence.”
"Now, in terms of the key players, Baron Nicolaus Okerra’s lands stand at the edge of the county. I believe you met him during the senate festivities before the... unpleasantness. He’s generally a fair-minded and compassionate man and would be a good ally. Hopefully you made a good impression on him. Some other prominent figures you may want to try and impress include Dame Parthena Crabbe, Baroness Legate Adella Voinum, Honorary Tribune Onora Piscum, and Earl Yander Merkondus."
"Of course there are those I would caution you to watch out for as well. Besides my half brother, my sister Cateline is quite shrewd, if she still lives there, and cousin Titus is little more than a bully. Beyond the family, Sir Gul Gusairne is a suspicious sort—he was father’s seneschal and I imagine Bartelby has kept him on in some fashion or another. And I suppose Sepsinia’s mother, Dame Crabbe, is a touch overbearing, but that can probably be worked around.”
Toby's head begins to spin. All these names! Well, Tobias old boy, you wanted to be noble, and this is what it is. You aren't a farmer anymore.
nobility: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (20) + 8 = 28
Toby has studied the nobility in his pursuit to obtain nobility himself, and the name Villarius is familiar to him. He looks at Eregos appraisingly. He wouldn't be here if Lady Martella didn't trust him, but his family is known to be trouble. But how much is lies, and how much is the truth?
"I, for one, know my limitations. Peerage is very new to me, and I am still trying to learn the proper ways. For this trip, I will be content to serve as bodyguard to whichever of you wishes to be the distant Betony relative."
It is easy to trust when you have already made contingency plans to disappear if everything goes south. Sveng nods to Lady Lotheed at her introduction of Sir Derwiler.
Have...have a what? Sveng's eyebrows raise. What game are you playing at now?
As Lady Lotheed speaks and starts dropping names and events, Sveng watches her intently, his mind racing as he searches through the halls of his mind for information.
Knowledge (local) on Palace of Birdsong: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (3) + 16 = 19
Recall Knowledge (local) on Palace of Birdsong: 1d20 + 16 + 4 ⇒ (7) + 16 + 4 = 27 If nobility is more appropriate, reduce the result by 7
Knowledge (nobility) on Bartelby: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16
Recall Knowledge (nobility) on Bartelby: 1d20 + 9 + 4 ⇒ (16) + 9 + 4 = 29
Knowledge (nobility) on Lady Allis Betony: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (15) + 9 = 24
Knowledge (local) on Tanager Jubilee: 1d20 + 16 ⇒ (15) + 16 = 31
Knowledge (nobility) on Baron Nicolaus Okerra: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
Recall Knowledge (nobility) on Baron Nicolaus Okerra: 1d20 + 9 + 4 ⇒ (20) + 9 + 4 = 33
Knowledge (nobility) on Dame Parthena Crabbe: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
Knowledge (nobility) on Lady Baroness Legate Adella Voinum: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (12) + 9 = 21
Knowledge (nobility) on Honorary Tribune Onora Piscum: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (18) + 9 = 27
Knowledge (nobility) on Earl Yander Merkondus: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18
Knowledge (nobility) on Cateline Lotheed: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (7) + 9 = 16
Knowledge (nobility) on Titus: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (9) + 9 = 18
Knowledge (nobility) on Sir Gul Gusairne: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (19) + 9 = 28
Also who is Sepsinia? It's mentioned that Dame Crabbe is her mother, but she's not mentioned anywhere else.
A complicated landscape but a simple objective, overall. Should be easily navigated with proper preparation. One question remains: "So who will be signing for the manor?" He ponders aloud. Toby is new, Eregos has too much scandal within the family name. I do not want my name so easily found and tracked. Piri or Sydney may work. I like the idea of Valeria having it, but as such a young woman that may raise suspicions.
"I do not suggest it be me. I am better to stay in the shadows and not be seen than be seen and try to disguise my lineage. The least amount of research would reveal that my family has enemies amongst the competing families. I would think any attention would be dangerous."
I wonder if I have been perceived as competent beyond my abilities in the ways of politics and disguise. I remain confident in doing what is necessary and being discrete; however determining what is necessary in this world of politics, royalty, and nobility...I need to stay in my lane."
Eregos says, ”I think Valeria may be the best choice. There are bound to be questions about where Lady Betony’s relation has been all these years, and why no one has ever heard of her. Being from outside Taldor, her lack of presence is easily explained.”
"Anyone from outside the County of Meratt would also fit the task, but by your logic it is a tad less likely that someone would have the resources and contacts necessary to investigate my past in Cheliax. Much less my family's heraldry. I will accept the assignment, provided everyone is in agreement."
Valeria looks around the room to see if anyone has any objections.
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Birdsong Palace: It’s one of the Stavian estates, but the Stavians haven’t visited it in centuries. Fairly humble, as palaces go. A century ago, the Lotheeds were appointed as regents to oversee it and the county.
Bartelby: Bartelby is the eldest son of Count Mercater Lotheed and runs the county of Meratt like a personal kingdom, with
little regard for broader politics beyond his borders. Like most Lotheeds, he commands considerable arcane gifts as well as considerable contempt for anyone who does not—including his half-sister Martella. Bartelby is clever and strong, a combination that makes him arrogant.
Lady Allis Betony: Allis Betony died nearly a decade ago, leaving no heirs. Since then, the home has languished in a state of receivership, with the Lotheeds showing little interest in finding real administrators for the property. There are rumors that the late Allis Betony spoke with spirits; no one cares to find out if they—or she—still linger.
Tanager Jubilee: Other than what the princess mentioned you know little else of the Jubilee.
Baron Nicolaus Okerra: Nicolaus Okerra is the baron of a stretch of villages in the eastern portion of the county of Meratt, and he is a local hero of the people. Popular as much for his good looks as for his fair policies, he has slain several terrible beasts and helped organize community improvement projects like irrigation, roadwork, and wells, often rolling up his sleeves and chipping in with the manual labor.
Dame Parthena Crabbe: The opinionated Dame Mistress Crabbe deals with her unresolved grief of her late husband’s passing by investing herself in everyone else’s lives. Her latest obsession is finding a suitor for her daughter Sepsinia.
Lady Baroness Legate Adella Voinum: A woman of wealth and discipline, Baroness Voinum is a retired commander of the Taldan Phalanx. She is best known as the local grump—condescending, detached, and judgmental—but is also a font of knowledge regarding the region’s history.
Honorary Tribune Onora Piscum: A commoner both uncomfortable and unwelcome in the noble halls of the palace, Onora fell into the job of tribune of Stachys after the death of the hereditary tribune, Allis Betony, 10 years ago and her husband, the acting tribune, 5 years later.
Earl Yander Merkondus: Earl Merkondus is a wealthy merchant from Moda who fancieshimself a politico and presses everyone around him for information.
Cateline Lotheed: Cateline is a bit of an unknown in social circles. While she is the only pure-blood Lotheed daughter she has been away studying abroad and is rarely around the Lotheed estate.
Titus: Titus Lotheed-Casava is a cousin to the family, currently availing himself of Bartelby’s good fortunes. Titus is a braggart, a bully, and a slacker.
Sir Gul Gusairne: The half-elf Gul served the previous Count Lotheed with distinction as seneschal, both keeping the estate in order and also serving as head of the count’s unofficial “secret police,” ferreting out dissent against his power.
Once it seems that the group is in agreement Martella goes through the papers with Valeria showing her where to sign. She notes as she points out various parts of the paperwork "If it should come up, these documents make you out as the second cousin, once removed, of the late Lady Allis Betony implying your great-grandfather was grandfather to Allis. It's unlikely anyone will care to go looking back that far but you should understand your cover..."
Once the documents are signed she splits the pile giving one set to Valeria and another she signals an errand boy over and who opens a satchel for Martella to place the papers and then promptly make his way out of the building. She looks to everyone and smiles "Alright, should we depart?"
Sveng nods. Valeria was his initial choice, the only factors making him pause being her age and gender, but that was more a concern of appearances rather than ability or practicality. And they are going for a young, female ruler of the country, are they not? A step in the right direction, a bold one.
"Yes, everything is in order. I believe we have quite a trip ahead of us, the sooner we depart the better."
Knowledge Geography: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (12) + 8 = 20
Valeria informs her friends that the journey shall take 5 days, but that there should be plenty of villages and inns along the way, negating the need for that dreadful 'camping'.
"I will back Valeria, in this position. I agree with Sveng, let's be to it, I see no reason to dally."
For travel each day I will Premake 1 cure moderate, 1 true-strike, 1 shield, leaving the final first level to be made as necessary
As the companions depart, Sir Toby introduces all to Hayseed. "This is my fine horse companion Hayseed. He is quite friendly, if each of you could reach out and give him a pet with me here, he will learn your scent and know that you are friends to me. C'mon now, don't be shy." Sir Toby has trained Hayseed to fight in battle and the horse wears armor that rivals Toby himself. The two together look like a walking battle machine.
Along the trip Toby stays on Hayseed constantly, trying to serve as both a scout and bodyguard, and regularly rides ahead and reports back to the group.
Hayseed is a medium armor wearer right now, but getting him in heavy is his next step.
Departing Oppara, with Martella along for the ride, the first thing you note is just how nice the carriage is. The princess obviously did not spare any expense in ensuring you looked the part and rode in comfort. Over the next several days riding through the countryside the trip is rather pleasant. The weather continues to warm as spring life blooms all around you and you feel a sense of excitement as you leave the more immediate troubles of the past few days behind you in the city of Oppara.
The ride is quiet as you would expect from traveling through a mostly developed country like Taldor, there aren't roving monsters or bandits at every turn and the roads are pretty well policed by local guards and soldiers. Each night you stay at a high scale inn, relatively speaking for the countryside, and enjoy each others company. Martella, for her part, brought paperwork to review, as well as several novels and sets of cards to share, enjoying the occasional game with those who are interested to pass the time.
Along the way as you likely discuss the upcoming Jubilee and the work ahead of you Martella explains that as part of your rewards for eventually turning the county to your cause and dispatching with her half-brother, you are welcome to take what portable valuables the Lotheeds have at the palace; coins, jewelry, magical trinkets, and so forth, but that the furniture, libraries, portraits, and other family items should remain where they are and relatively intact for future generations.
As you get closer and closer to your destination Martella reminds you that she wants you to go to the event, use your charms to ensure an easy fit into local society, and then use your skills and alliances to subtly change the county for the better. Only then, once you are sure to have won over the hearts of the locals, are you to take the Palace of Birdsong back from the Lotheed family on behalf of Princess Eutropia. With secure alliances, you can then openly show your allegiances and invite your neighbors to join you, using Meratt as a template for what positive changes may await Taldor under Princess Eutropia.
Valeria's new “title”, and by extension the groups assistance, also makes them tribunes of the neighboring town of Stachys, essentially investing them with the power and responsibility to act as the community’s mayor and judge. While this sqaurly falls on Valeria's shoulders she has the right to delegate responsibilities to the others as proxies as needed. Martella briefly details the Betony family history dating back to the Shining Crusade. It is a pretty common story of a well off family gaining power and prestige through the families deeds in the war. She reminds the group that they have rights as stewards to the Lotheeds, most notably the right to request audiences with Bartelby if needed, but that their rule extends solely to their lands; openly taking any action outside their own demesne is dangerous and foolish unless done covertly.
She reminds the group that subterfuge is of the utmost importance, the Lotheeds might not be beloved now, but old alliances can easily prove stronger than recent deeds. Lady Lotheed encourages you all to carry out any covert actions in some sort of disguise, perhaps using alter egos or masks, the sort of symbols common citizens rally to, while publicly playing the role of aristocrats. Finally, she adds, the group should not try to use magic to try to influence their new neighbors; the Lotheeds are a particularly magically aware family, and likely to spot such tampering.
As you eventually near the border of the county Martella thanks you once again for your assistance and prepares to split ways with the group heading off on her own work. Before she departs she offers you one last boon. She has been experimenting with a memory-erasing poison she calls Styx oil, which should provide the group a second chance to correct a social faux pas or escape notice. However, the drug is expensive and time-consuming to produce, and she can offer only 3 doses for now. She notes that if ingested or injected Styx oil renders its target unconscious and floods every sense with erratic hallucinations, overwhelming the mind and essentially wiping away memories. This chaotic mélange wipes away memories of the 5 minutes prior to the poison’s injection; occasionally, though, the drug fails to paralyze its victim, leaving the creature to flail violently and unpredictably in response to the hallucinations. If Styx oil is delivered by a weapon rather than injection or other subtle method, the victim is more likely to resist its effects.
Getting an overview of your trip just before the border of the county of Meratt. I will move us forward on Monday, but feel free to RP among yourself, talk to Martella, etc in the meantime. This is a good time to get to know Toby and for Toby to get to know the rest of the group. Also, if the RP is going strong past Monday we will roll with it so don't feel constrained to that timeline, just putting it out there as a rough target.
"It is unlikely that any will have heard of me outside of Oppara, but you may all feel free to call me Sir William Osbourne, faithful retainer and bodyguard of her Lady...Valeria... ah, blast it. What should we call you, my Lady?"
Sveng pays mouth verbiage to the comfort of the carriage, but inwardly the trip quickly makes him stir crazy. Five days. Over a hundred hours where he could be building his operation and tipping the scales to their favor. He could be researching, threatening, seeding rumors, so many valuable man hours thrown to the side for the sake of this trip. This had better be fruitful.
Sveng passes on most opportunities to play games with the others, although any talk of the mission is well received. He spends most of the time poring over various notebooks he keeps on his person, cross referencing notes and making copies into smaller, handheld notebooks. During the time in the inns, he seeks out the others and breaks them down with everything he knows of the situation they're going into, an almost overwhelming amount of information. Please feel free to check the spoiler that GM Dak provided for me above, Sveng will share all of this information with the party.
Free reign over the portable valuables? A small fortune, surely. Perhaps this will be more than worth the time after all. No operation survives without gold as its lifeblood. Which is, after all, the entire point of this mission. He folds his hands, resting his chin in them. A longer form mission thin. Sway public opinion before a coup. On a small scale, albeit, but a longer mission nonetheless. Hmm, I will have to operate from here for the time being.
Sveng listens to Lady Lotheeds wisdom and insights into their situation, frowning at the caution of magic use. Although I try to use it only in emergencies, it seems completely off the table here. Unfortunate. He examines the drugs with a raised eyebrow. Ah, the more crude methods than. Normally more risky, but in this case less so. A more potent version of one of my tricks, but as you say, expensive.
Eregos eagerly engages in games of cards every chance he gets, showing himself a skilled player. He seems almost too eager to do so, at times.
Otherwise he discusses the mission with the others, in particular what his role should be. He decides that the Hargus identity should be used as an alter ego to act against Bartleby, but he isn't sure if he should use his real name otherwise or not. He also isn't sure what he should say his title is within the estate.
"It is unlikely that any will have heard of me outside of Oppara, but you may all feel free to call me Sir William Osbourne, faithful retainer and bodyguard of her Lady...Valeria... ah, blast it. What should we call you, my Lady?"
"Baroness Valeria Tanessen, I believe, if we are to serve under the Count, when announcing my arrival or during introductions; as part of conversations in front of others, after introductions are done with, I believe the correct form of address will be My Lady, or Your Ladyship. Anything along these lines should not raise suspicion, but being overly familiar might... so I implore you to be careful! the Count is bound to have eyes and ears amongst both the nobility and the common folks..."
At night, while at the various upscale inns, Valeria makes sure to devote an hour or two crafting various costumes for the party members, should they need to act within their masked identity outside of Stachys and the Betony Barony. She makes sure to incorporate any specifications requested by her comrades and fellow Loyalists! She focuses on the crafting, letting her eight handmaidens see to any errands, tasks and messages.
[color=purple]"There..."[/color] says Valeria with a deeper voice than usual, almost not recognizable, in her room on the last night before arriving in Meratt, [color=purple]"My costume is complete. I shall go by the name of 'The Nightingale' in battle outside of the boundaries of the Betony Barony. Through a combination of magic and mundane trickery, as The Nightingale I will appear much taller and more solid than my own frail self. My weapons will be disguised in plain, black versions of themselves as Dignity's Barb is quite recognizable to those initiated to magic items and artifacts, I suppose..."[/color]
"Well done, my lady! I suppose I will need a suitable incognito disguise as well. Can you have your ladies create a black surcoat for me, and a black leather covering for my shield, and then I will keep my visor down and become the mysterious "Black Knight" on those occasions when our swords do the talking. Hayseed will probably have to be left behind, sadly."
[color=purple]"Nonsense! we shall disguise Hayseed as well... a simple horse vest and some hair dye should do... we can change the vest's color with a simple prestidigitation, therefore you won't need to disrobe the poor horse every time..."[/color]
Valeria produces the requested costumes.
"Indeed! You are a marvel, my lady. I am not one used to the ways of magic, no I'm not! We didn't have such things on the farm."
Piri allows Hayseed to get his scent and has some kind words and pats for the steed. He spends most of the trip observing. He studies the information Sveng gathered. He studies the card games, engaging in as many as possible. One learns much about others while competing in games of chance or otherwise
Piri works with his costumes and Valeria to prepare something for his disguise. A hooded cloak pulled down low, with an eye mask Ala Green Arrow The cloak is reversible as in inside-out, so that it serves as two cloaks in one. One being tactical and dark patterns to improve camouflage and the other befitting a gentleman of the court, with which he will not wear the hood.
"I am curious about this potion, might I examine it and study it?" Very few things are outside of my alchemical abilities, I am surprised I know nothing of this.
Sydney quietly observes from the back, occasionally leaning over to get a whispered earful form his little black bird.
"The theatrics seem a bit much, but you all appear to be having fun."
[color=purple]"Piri! I got just the thing!!! how about that?! Page 5 of the 'male, human' avatars list! Oh, and you shush, Sydney... you could use a little fun yourself I think... how about you come up to my quarters later and we can figure something out for you?"[/color]
Nestled just south of the Verduran Forest, the county of Meratt sprawls across the Tandak Plains, which stretch northeast of Cassomir. The land here is pastoral, with rolling hills and pockets of verdant forest. The World’s Edge Mountains to the east occasionally rise into view, creating breathtaking vistas. Noble estates, hamlets and villages, and farmland of all sorts knit the countryside together like a familiar and
As you draw near to your new estate your carriage is waylaid by desperate beggars and traders offering a variety of wares and asking for spare coins.
You hear a chorus of different voices ""Goods for sale! Stock up on supplies!"
"Please, my lords and ladies, spare some coins?"
"Hail, strangers! What're ya buyin'?"
"My children are hungry. A few coppers will go a long way."
The hodgepodge traders seem to offer mostly mundane goods, but it is very apparent that these people, who you assume to be locals, are not very well off making you wonder how bad things truly are here for the commoners.
Sir Toby knows hunger. Growing up as a farming boy himself, he knows what weather can do to a crop, and what taxes do to the bottom line.
As he passes the people, he leans over and hands out gold pieces... 1 to each beggar. He gives away half of his wealth, up to 80 gp if there are that many. Just let me know the total cost.
He repeats over and over, "This is from the Baroness Valeria Tanessen, good folk. Please, make this fill your children's bellies and buy them new shoes and coats for the coming winter."